“Ladies and gentlemen, if you would please return to your seats and fasten your seat belts, we will be landing in Miami within the next few minutes.”

     Princess let out a sigh of relief. She turned to smile at Pepper, who was resting her cheek on her shoulder, a faint echo of music droning from her headphones. Princess leaned back and quietly buckled her seat-belt before reaching over to do the same to her daughter’s. She didn’t particularly care for airplanes, though she considered them an annoying necessity; with the best investors being in Japan, driving was usually out of the question. Still, she knew Pepper was aware that she was using her for comfort, and that bothered her more than flying. She wished she was brave enough to fly alone.

     She smiled and nudged her daughter, who grumbled and opened her eyes. As Pepper removed her headphones, she demanded to know she needed. Princess replied, “We’re landing.”

     “Thank God,” Pepper moaned. “Word of advice mom: never sleep through turbulence. It fucks with your dreams.”

     Princess looked confused. There hadn’t been any turbulence for several hours. Their flight had bypassed the storm system moving through the Midwest, and aside from a patch of rough air over the west coast, it had been smooth as silk since they’d reached the states.

     “None then?” Pepper shrugged. “Weird. I swear I could feel the plane being tossed around.”

     “That doesn’t sound like fun.”

     “Of course not,” Pepper scowled. “Dreams like that aren’t exactly restful.”

     Princess smirked and nudged her daughter. “Did my poor little Pepper have a nightmare?”

     “Christ, Mom,” Pepper said, rolling her eyes. “Yeah, you could call it that. We were being batted around by a giant animal–I don’t know what exactly, ’cause it was too big to tell. There was all this screaming as the plane was tossed up and down in the air, but this thing wouldn’t let us crash. What I could see of it through the windows was horrifying: it was so massive you could barely make out anything past the eyes–which, by the way, were nightmarish in and of themselves–and a mouth filled with yellowed fangs and the reddest gums you ever saw. Unsettling.”

     A chill ran down Princess’ spine. The familiarity of that dream had startled her. She was remembering something from long ago, a lingering dread that had plagued her since she was young. Her heart began to race. She gripped the arms of her seat very tightly, her blunt claws digging into the leather, breaking through with a quiet pop. As the wheels made contact with the runway, she heard her daughter ask what was wrong, but she could say nothing. Her voice seemed so far away.

     She wouldn’t have had much time to answer. As soon as the plane’s wheels hit the runway, a loud blast echoed throughout the cabin. Princess quickly grabbed her daughter’s head and pressed it down into her lap. As Pepper began to fight, a red glow filled the plane, and Princess felt a searing heat on the back of her skull. She quickly reached over to unbuckle her daughter’s belt and pushed her to the floor, just as the flames began to flow into the first class compartment. A second blast deafened her, and the heat began to singe her fur, followed by a sharp pain in her neck and the stench of corpses.